Not exceptionally long ago there was a man who was incarcerated into a brutal prison where he endured immense suffering. Daily he was persecuted and beaten without remorse. He had no bed or plumbing and received less food than other inmates. He was forced to work twice as hard. He lived in environments unfit for any living creature. In total he served 27 years under these conditions. Even when his mother died and then his son, he was not permitted to attend their funeral.
Enduring great physical and emotional pain he did not allow himself to be broken or succumb to bitterness. When he was finally released in 1990, his sole focus was on healing his country’s divisions and bringing old enemies together to rebuild in common cause. He chose to become a great leader. He challenged himself to see things from new eyes. To forgive his persecutors, to make friends with his enemies and to learn about the most important person in his life, himself. To be free to choose how he thought.
He knew that by holding onto to the pain and suffering the abuse and hatred, the relentless beatings and forced labour he endured, he would not be able to achieve his desire, his dream of becoming a leader that could create change in the world for his people, so it would be a better place to live. He would not ask for wealth or fame, but instead for forgiveness and equality.
On the day he was released from prison he stated, “As I walked out the door towards the gates that would lead me to freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave the bitterness and hatred behind, I would always be in prison.” This man was Nelson Mandela. His magnanimity towards his former oppressors won the admiration of South Africans and people around the world, and greatly eased his country’s transition to democracy. His lifelong pursuit of racial peace and reconciliation earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 — and the next year, Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, in a momentous election that for the first time allowed South Africans of all ethnic origins to vote.
Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. Nelson Mandela
While the current circumstances may not appear to have a resemblance to the life of Nelson Mandela’s challenges and accomplishments, it demonstrates how our mind is resourceful and powerful. It is able to lift us out of the most challenging environments and create greatness where there was nothing but suffering. During this time of uncertainty, fear and loss, could this be a time that we challenge our perspectives of our own world?
I never lose, I either win or learn! Nelson Mandela.
Perhaps this is the first-time many people have been exposed to adversity, maybe for others this is insignificant compared with what they have endured. What this experience of extreme measures in order to save lives has done, by taking away some of our distractions and giving us the opportunity to reset and re-calibrate, to see a world many have not seen. To take stock of what is important to us and to let go of things that are not. It may provide us with gratitude for the people who have been our front line. The people who have endured suffering and hardship to create this world in which we live. Sacrifice and patience help us to learn what is truly valuable. Every day we choose our perspective, the story we tell ourselves about our experiences.
It always seems impossible until it’s done. Nelson Mandela
Reflecting on the current COVID19 lock down provides a prism for how we perceive society through different lenses. Many resources and acknowledgement are being provided for the people who are isolated at home, struggling with their situations, and being given encouragement and strategies to remain comfortable and mental well. Spare a thought for our fearless frontline who continue to work.
They are not only the medical staff, but all of the people who provide services and support for people who require food, physical support, machinery repairs and services. Like the myriad of workers who appear daily in their jobs outside the house, these forgotten frontline workers are not only risking their exposure to this virulent virus, but they continue to offer a resemblance that our life is ‘still normal’. We can still go to Macca’s and stop at Coles, Woolworths or Aldi’s to search for toilet paper! With filtered information about how deadly the Coronavirus is, no personal protective equipment, many people have journeyed out, often struggling to maintain their social distancing, to keep Australia functioning. Business owners struggling to keep staff employed, disability carers, teachers, police, petrol station employees are not only without recognition they are often forgotten. Our forgotten frontline asks nothing extra and have risked their health to keep us enjoying the privileged freedom of living in this amazing country we call home. Our land that is filled with opportunities, a land that embraces us with clear blue skies, fresh air and enough for everyone.
As Australia grows nearer to the gradual return to freedom, we can perhaps reflect on what we may have missed while limited or restricted to home. Possibly there is time to reflect on how we can shape our mind to appreciate what we have and learn the value of our ability to challenge our thoughts and be inspired by Nelson Mandela, loss, hardship and the ability for adversity to give us so much more than suffering. Look for a new inspired focus.
5 Ideas to be inspired, maintain passion and gain knowledge for success
It always seems impossible until it’s done. Nelson Mandela
Yes, it is challenging at this time, but you can take inspiration from history and the many incredible acts of altruism that have made our world such a beautiful place to live. Spare a thought for the people in isolation, lost and struggling for resources, and keep in mind the many people who do their absolute best to maintain the facade of our society and provide for our needs. Thank them! Most importantly take care of you and find the resources you require to connect with a sense of wisdom and passion during this trying time. Our government is planning a change soon, so allow yourself to feel confident that in time your current situation shall pass, and you shall have done something wonderful even if in a small way.
One of the most difficult things is not to change society — but to change yourself. Nelson Mandela
Mental Health Specialist
If you are interested in learning more about Karen’s background or her workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.